Most of my childhood, bar the first couple of years, was spent living in Watford, a not particularly interesting little town to the North West of London, just outside the Orbital M25 motorway.

But for a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s my parents, wanting to get more space than the two-up, two-down Victorian terrace that was their first home, moved to Hatfield. A post-war New Town, at the core there was the historical Hatfield House, apparently the place where the princess Elizabeth Tudor found out she was to become Queen.

Outside of the historic bit, the rest of Hatfield made Watford look like Paris.

But it’s fair to say that some of my clearest early musical memories come from the time living there. The 2Tone Ska Revival, Adam and the Ants (of particular note because the video of Stand and Deliver was partly shot at the aforementioned Hatfield House), and others of the era. Looking back it appeared to be a remarkably creative time in pop music – a mix of art school bonkers, punk and reggae revival.

North London’s Nutty Boys, Madness, seemed to be everywhere. The music. The fashion. The iconography. And devilishly good songwriters and musicians to boot. One step, indeed, beyond…

You can see the #51for50 project to date here: https://mmitii.mattballantine.com/category/projects/51-for-50/

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